Throughout this website, we have looked at the history of journalism, technology, social trends, and fake news in order to answer the question of how American journalism has reached its present point.
The answer is, of course, not simple. During the earliest days of America, freedom of the press was not a given, and those publications speaking out against political leaders were often silenced. When the American Revolution occurred, the freedom of the press was the first article added to the constitution. This was no doubt in part to hold politicians accountable in the future, but also as a way of acknowledging how the press helped sway citizens to the patriot cause.
As the years pass technology grows; the radio brings voice where there was once only print, the television added visuals, and eventually, the internet would allow high-speed access to information from nearly anywhere, at any time. But as technology grew, the industry had to adapt as well. Any publication who refused to keep up with the fast-paced world full of new competition would die out. In order to reach younger audiences, social media had to be used as a way of getting attention and broader readership.
But from this arose waves of sensationalism and lies called fake news. While this concept was hardly new, it became a staple of the 2016 presidential election. This as a talking point, along with the absurdity of some of the “news” being spread, made the phenomenon into a joke.
American journalism has been on its current course for years. Political divides have separated viewers, who can easily tune into biased reports that only serve to reaffirm already-held beliefs. In the earliest days of America this was how news was reported, up until profit could be found in appealing to a larger audience. But with ad revenue from online sources and more people tuning in, this issue has become moot, causing the reversion back to heavily biased reporting. As this rift in modern American society grew, the extremes on each side became louder.
We have reached a metaphorical shouting contest in modern American journalism. The audience is speaking over one another without listening themselves, and in a frenzy to appeal to these viewers, publications and broadcasters lower themselves to the level of this loud minority, furthering cycle. This outcome did not spring out of thin air, but had its foundations lain out since the beginning.